Previously known by the shortened name of Peter V (and reviewed here on Bluesdoodles – use the search facility to read all about him and his rather lovely Shaken But Not Deterred album) this talented musician has released a new album under the name Peter Veteska and Blues Train. Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side is the fifth release since forming in 2013. Fortunately, he and the band got most of the recording done before the world was thrown into the hideous pandemic we are all having to endure.
Always rooted in the blues, some of Peter’s previous work has had a healthy dose of jazz and funk mixed in although, on this album, it is nearly rock and blues-based and is none the worse for that! Take opening number Am I Wrong Pretty Baby…pure harp led blues with a great gentle chorded riff from guitar and organ and a guitar solo that is genius in its (purposeful) off keyed sound…listen closely and the structure is brilliant: as is the organ solo that follows. My kind of blues…solos abound!
Next is a familiar song from Washington/Benton; Baby You’ve Got What It Takes first saw the light in 1960 and Peter, with the very able Jen Barnes adding sultriness, as the band move the swing tune into blues shuffle territory rather well. Running Like A Dog is next and the drum starts it neatly before organ, bass and lead work together to lay down the melody. The vocals are spot on and suit the track so well and the organ of Jeff Levine has another blast of a solo before the Strat of Peter lays down an imaginative solo.
Mikey Junior is back on vocals and harp for the acoustic loveliness of I’ve Been Missing You. The piano adds gravitas and the harp solo surpassed only by the picked solo that shows acoustic can be lead too. Swing is the order of the day on You Give Me Loving as I get the feeling that the whole band smiled all the way through this joyous slice of proper blues. Once again we are treated to quality solos from Hammond and Stratocaster.
Learning The Blues isn’t as obvious as the title suggests…it sounds like Peter doing a Frank Sinatra over slow lounge-style blues. Not my favourite but a very entertaining patterns and melody keep it more than listenable. Thinking And Drinking as two of my regular pastimes…if he was having a ciggy at the same time…! It is actually a New Orleans style blues with some more original guitar touches that need close listening to before the clever structure is revealed.
The next song will be very familiar: Ray Charles’ 1958 classic Heartbreaker is given a fascinating reading with organ washing away while Peter is joined on guitar and vocals by Roger Girke to great effect…the guitar exchanges are a real treat. A blues standard next, as the band take on the excellent Willie Cobb song, You Don’t Love Me. This version does nod slightly in the direction of the Allman Brothers version…which is a very good thing as it means we get the suitably extended organ and guitar solos to salivate over. Pity they weren’t even longer.
Closing with the title track Peter goes bit heavier with some blues-rock of quality: great riff, wah’d guitar on the intro and on the lovely solo and rounded off with more organ goodness…a great way to wrap it up.
Another quality album from Peter and his talented crew…probably, in my mind at least, his best yet with so much to enjoy and glean from every listen as the clever guitar and keys behind every track reveal themselves and the bass and drums lock the rhythms down faultlessly.
Bluesdoodles rating: A Wonderful album of blues with plenty of variation and quality too keep it high up the playlist.
1. Am I Wrong Pretty Baby
2. Baby You Got What It Takes
3. Running Like A Dog
4. I’ve Been Missing You
5. You Give Me Loving
6. Learning The Blues
7. Thinking And Drinking
9. You Don’t Love Me
10. Grass Ain’t Greener On The Other Side
Peter Veteska: guitar, vocals
Coo Mo Jhee: bass
Jeff Levine: keyboards
Alex D’Agnese: drums
Mikey Junior: vocals, harmonica
Jen Barnes: vocals
Roger Girke: guitar, vocals
Recorded at Shorefire Studios, New Jersey
(The iTunes run on led me to the first Phenomena album which was a good rocky home for Glenn Hughes vocals – especially as he sang it straight and true without his occasional overblown approach.)